Photo-heart connection: unconditional love from animals

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It’s time for another Photo-Heart Connection! Haven’t done it before? You can learn more about how to find your Photo-Heart Connection here.  Kat talks about “making a commitment to connect art with heart” and invites anyone and everyone to add photography or artwork to the monthly connections.

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” ~ James Herriot

Sammy and MoWe have two cats, Sammy and Mo, and they are brothers who we adopted from a shelter when they were 3 months old.  That was almost 12 years ago.

They are a study in contrast.  Whereas Sammy is always looking for a good time, Mo is quiet, nervous, and likes to be alone.  Sammy likes one or two pats and then no more touching; Mo would be carried around in a Baby Bjorn if he could.  When our daughter arrived, life changed for the kitties, but still, they brought us all closer together.  Our daughter is attached to them far beyond what we expected.  I’m sad to say that while I still regularly take care of them, in general my focus has been elsewhere the past few years.

Mo sleeping

Mo has been the one that I’m drawn to the most, and he to me.  He used to follow me around everywhere, but these days he waits for my daughter to be at school or in bed for the night before he comes to sit with me.  We enjoy each other’s company.  And so, when I had to take him to the vet early one morning last week and leave him there for the day for a biopsy, I missed him.  It felt to me like I had lost a limb or something else important.

I was taken aback by how much that day without him impacted my thoughts.  When I picked him up at the end of the day, he was scared and I felt overprotective toward him.  In the week since, I’ve appreciated him far more than ever, spending more time with him and making sure he’s ok, talking sweetly to him and giving him extra pets.

He has arthritis and high blood pressure, and giving him medicine for those conditions has been a minor challenge given his skittishness.  Unfortunately, that biopsy was inconclusive, so I have to take him for a repeat procedure today, which I feel so terrible about on his account.

Being responsible for a human being’s care is quite labor-intensive and meaningful, full of spiritual lessons and growth opportunities.  I don’t think caring for an animal can compare, but the sense of responsibility I feel for a life of quality and peace for these guys is still great.  They give their love and affection so willingly.  I aspire to do the same and to continue to earn their trust.  My friend Harmony writes in a recent blog post on grieving animals that “unlike many humans, animals can offer us unconditional love, and the loss of that love can feel insurmountable.”

I believe that the souls of animals are the same as those of people.  I believe that our souls choose when to leave our bodies.  When his time comes, I will try to accept it and continue to be grateful for the time I had with him and what he has taught me.

Tell me, what do you believe?

Read other PHC March posts.

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19 Responses to Photo-heart connection: unconditional love from animals

  1. I share so many of your beliefs about animals, Naomi, and I, too, feel the weight of responsibility for the quality of their lives. Luckily, though, our animals tend to find peace and enjoyment, even through troubling times. Thank you for linking to my post, and thank you for loving your beautiful orange cats! (I adore orange kitties!)
    Harmony Harrison recently posted…The Great Corgi Leap! In which real paint is put on real paper. Really.My Profile

  2. Sarah says:

    We are reaching a similar point with our two boys (dogs) They are both 11. I sometimes selfishly wish they were gone so we could travel more, but in reality I will miss them terribly. They are such company when my husband is gone for work. Scout is definitely my little buddy following me everywhere and he doesn’t do well without me. I chose to believe that there will be dogs in Heaven, especially these two.

  3. Kat Sloma says:

    Oh, my, I know this love and this loss. When we first open our hearts to animals, we realize that we didn’t quite understand unconditional love. We’ve recently added another cat to our menagerie, so it’s now two cats and a dog. And it’s been interesting to see the adjustments and attachements, on everyone’s part, in the house. There was space in our hearts for one more. I hope Mo is feeling better soon, and he’s with you for a long time to come. Thank you for sharing in the Photo-Heart Connection this month.
    Kat Sloma recently posted…Home, AgainMy Profile

  4. Barbara says:

    Hope Mo makes a good recovery and that nothing serious is wrong

  5. Oh I can empthasise with you so much on this. Our beloved orange cat left us some years ago after a long and debilitating illness and I still miss him like crazy even now. We haven’t replaced him because our nomadic lifestyle doesn’t fit in with the commitment required to care for a pet. We adopted a street cat but she too left us last year after an illness. She was waiting for us in the road when we returned from a road trip, we like to think she wanted to say goodbye, and she died in my arms a couple of hours later. I am so grateful that I knew how her life ended rather than worrying about what might have happened to her. I hope both your cats live long and happy lives.
    Carol aka Traveller recently posted…Photo-Heart connection: March 2014My Profile

  6. Naomi says:

    Yes, their complete devotion is not replaceable. What a sweet and heartbreaking story you tell here. I think INFJs have strong attachments and routines, which makes us feel the emptiness even more. I just took a course called INFJ Business with Abby Kerr of the Voice Bureau and it included a Facebook group where we asked each other lots of silly questions and identified with one another on whether we like being on the phone (no), how to balance social time with recovery time, how to structure a business to our strengths, etc. It was really good affirmation that we are not weak, just have different strengths. INFJs are 1% of the population! I didn’t know that before, did you?

  7. nancyjean says:

    I totally agree with you … I do hope your dear cat gets a good report today. I know how you feel when they are away … even when my dogs are at the groomers … I miss them so! I can not imagine my life without having animals with me. They are such a good thing!
    nancyjean recently posted…photo~heart connection … the march editionMy Profile

  8. Naomi says:

    Thanks for your comment! Yep, they’re wonderful!

  9. Suzette says:

    Beautiful image and words. We have dogs…two basset hounds and one of them came to me when I found myself alone after 31 years of marriage. Molly is 10 years old. Her brown nose and face is white now and she walks a bit slower and has become lumpy…something bassets are famous for. I can’t imagine her leaving me, but she will one day. She was with me through a terrible time and kept me company. In her eyes I see how much she adores me and I adore her. I am so glad we have pets to see us through the happy and sad times of our lives. Take care and blessings to your sweet kitty!

  10. seabluelee says:

    This was very touching. I hope Mo will be all right, and that you’ll have many more years to enjoy the company of both of your kitty friends.
    seabluelee recently posted…Photo-Heart Connection: March 2014My Profile

  11. Miriam says:

    I have been up & down to the vets over the past three weeks with my beloved greyhound. Husband & I have talked often about the weight of responsibility for her, but I wouldn’t have it another way. Unconditional love works both ways for me. A wonderful PHC and I hope that Mo is well soon. I love the picture of the two cats together, a mirror image. Gorgeous.
    Miriam recently posted…Photo Heart ConnectionMy Profile

  12. Naomi says:

    Thank you so much for visiting and for your comment.

  13. Naomi says:

    That’s the thing… they are present with us for EVERYTHING. They go through so much with us and are so loving!

  14. Janet says:

    We’ve lost so any pals over the years -all special in their own way. I need to believe they’ll be waiting for us in Heaven. Hope Mo feels better soon.
    Janet recently posted…Doing The Responsible Thing…My Profile

  15. debbie says:

    I refer to our dog as a the beacon of unconditional love. She just shows up and always from a place of love. She is always present, patient and full of enthusiasm. I can’t even begin to comprehend an end to her days by my side. So I will simply cherish her more today… Beautiful photo and profound words.
    debbie recently posted…Coming Clean: DIY Photo SoapMy Profile

  16. debbie says:

    Naomi, I refer to our dog as the beacon of unconditional love. As the spiritual teacher of calm in the storm, of being present, of showing up and tuning in… I can’t even think about her not being nearby. But your thoughtful post will help me cherish her more today. Love your photos and your words.
    debbie recently posted…Coming Clean: DIY Photo SoapMy Profile

  17. Beautiful photo-heart connection. I adopted two little cats -just as you did- seventeen years ago, they were sisters and were -as yours- very different. The one who used to be strongest and more dominant, passed away three years ago. She survived cancer one year and a half, which was much, but finally she left us, her death was a very powerful lesson and made me realize that she know what was happening and was at ease with that fact… somehow she prepared myself to let her go.

    Her sister survived and is beside me while I am writing this comment. She was very sad after that, so sad that I was afraid she would become ill, I tried many things and finally (nine months after her sister´s passing) I did something I though I wouldn´t do so soon: I adopted a new kitty. She is the sweetest cat ever and made the other want to claim her territory and live.
    Zena (healingmoments) recently posted…DAY 519My Profile

  18. Naomi says:

    What at poignant tale you tell. I didn’t really even think about how the one left behind would feel. Oh goodness, I can only imagine. Thank you so much for your story and for visiting!

  19. Naomi says:

    Thank you, Debbie. I appreciate their presence most of all.

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